In 2020-2021, IOTA held several online international colloquia on the historical and theological aspects of deification. Given the importance of the topic of deification, we are delighted to share the presentations given at these colloquia in the form of newly launched IOTA Lectures.
The first lecture in the series features the work of Dr. Norman Russell, whose book The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford, 2006) has become a contemporary classic. As Dr. Russell prepares a new edition of his celebrated book, he has new insights to share regarding deification in the second and third-century Church Fathers.
Deification in pre-Constantinian ecclesiastical writers must be seen against a background in which the Church (not yet in a dominant position) is competing against rival – particularly Valentinian Gnostic – versions of the destiny of the saved.
The Valentinian teaching of souls emanating from and returning to the Father acted as a catalyst for the development of an alternative ecclesiastical narrative (beginning with Irenaeus) for advanced Christians, based on the notion of the recapitulation of humanity in Christ, in whom Christians share by recovering the divine likeness, thus entering into a new humanity in communion with the Father.
With Clement (the first to refer to Theaetetus 176b) and Origen (the first to discuss 2 Peter 1:4) the philosophical aspects of deification are developed. Especially important is the notion of participation – entailing as it does two distinct terms, the participator and the participated – which encapsulates the essence of deification as union without absorption.
Future videos in the series (available in the upcoming weeks):
- Dr. Adrian Pirtea: Deification in the Syriac Fathers
- Archbishop Alexander Golitzin: St. Symeon the New Theologian
- Rev. Dr. Alexis Torrance: St. Gregory Palamas and Palamism
- Rev. Dr. Andrew Louth: St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain, St. Makarios of Corinth, and the Philokalia